Indie BRANDS, the Launch

Indie BRANDS (BIS Publishers). Photo Courtesy:

Pakhuis de Zwijger*, Amsterdam played host on Thursday (22 December 2011) to the launch of Indie BRANDS – a new book portraying 30 independent brands and their inspiring stories. Written and curated by Anneloes van Gaalen, the publication explores the Indie Brand concept as well as the creative minds behind them, the innovative products they make, their base of operations and sources of inspiration. Be it Tony’s Chocolonely slavery-free chocolate or O△+ biodegradable sneakers, erotic fragrances by Etat Libre d’Orange or hyper-caffeinated Frittz-kola, Ms. van Gaalen traveled the globe to investigate a variety of brands and what makes them tick. Accordingly, financial and creative independence, original storytelling and a firm grasp of marketing are unifying virtues inherent to authentic, independent brands as opposed to those in the mainstream.

Accompanying the launch was the well-attended Indie Brands Event. In participation with a number of brand owners featured in the book, the gathering combined keynote speeches and panel discussions on critical issues surrounding an indie brand lifecycle. From the initial idea generation and brand formulation to media exposure, cash flow and growth, the speakers presented valuable insights based on their own experiences and mistakes. More importantly, it was an opportunity for these individuals to share their personal stories and how they were inspired to throw caution to the wind and devote their lives to create something valuable.

Indie BRANDS Event
Indie BRANDS Event. Pakhuis de Zwijger Amsterdam. phillipqgangan (2011).

Despite their good intentions, there was still a hint of skepticism among those in attendance, particularly in regard to the authenticity of these brands. A few members of the audience were not entirely convinced of the sincerity of the business owners and questioned whether or not their brands were truly independent. Intriguingly, with the introduction of each panelist, the crowd was bombarded with professionally executed marketing campaigns and audiovisual presentations. While both storytelling and marketing play an integral role in establishing brand identity, there is a tendency for companies nowadays to carelessly throw around terms such as sustainability, social responsibility and independence in order to boost their corporate image, hence the public’s suspicion.

Similarly, it seemed as though the main focus of the conference was entirely on the brands themselves and the products they represent. Albeit unavoidable at a brand-centric event, the pursuit of customer satisfaction was a missing element in the discussions. It is common knowledge that the success of an indie brand or any other brand for that matter primarily depends on the customers’ patronage. No amount of marketing gimmickry or storytelling will ever convince a dissatisfied customer, especially when it is the brand’s value-added services such as on-time delivery, after-sales and customer assistance that are substandard.

Indie BRANDS Panel Discussion
Indie BRANDS Event Panel Discussion. phillipqgangan (2011).

Nevertheless, Ms. van Gaalen thinks otherwise. As a veteran of the street art scene and a well-published author on the movement, her primary passion lies in good storytelling. Of the 60-odd brands she shadowed over the course of 2 years, only 30 were deemed worthy enough to grace the pages of the book with authenticity as a fundamental provision. What was most inspiring to her was when business owners openly admitted their failures, whether it was the incapacity to fulfill purchase orders, the abhorrence of their peers or a disastrous product launch, all resulting in the severe loss of capital. Sure enough, it is this sort of honesty, imperfection and struggle that separate these brands from the mainstream.

Indie BRANDS Panel Discussion
Indie BRANDS Event Panel Discussion. phillipqgangan (2011).

At the end of the day, founding a business is no easy feat. Leaving behind a lucrative career or starting out with no more than just a good idea in order to create something of value is a risk only taken by a few. Whether they are strictly indie or not is beside the point. What is clear is that these brands are the real underdogs. They are the products of creative thinking and grueling hours of hard work, facing insurmountable uncertainty with an air of confidence, unwavering commitment to what it is they do and the guts to dream. ✌

For more information on Indie BRANDS, Anneloes van Gaalen and the brands featured in her book, visit the websites listed below:

Indie BRANDS (BIS Publishers)

Anneloes van Gaalen (Paperdoll Writing)

A Call to Alms

Typhoon Washi Strikes the Philippines. Photo Courtesy: Bobby Lagsa, EPA / Landov/

On 17 December 2011, Typhoon Sendong (International name: Washi) devastated the Mindanao region in the Southern Philippines. More than 1000 people have died and hundreds more are reported missing due to abnormal weather that brought about the accumulation of a month’s worth of rainfall overnight. Although the Philippines is prone to tropical storms throughout the year, this particular region in Mindanao rarely experiences typhoons of this strength, let alone the staggering amount of rain. As a result, over 300,000 people have been affected by severe landslides and flooding, including the residents of two major cities, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

The Philippines is currently in a state of national calamity. The residents of the worst-hit areas have lost their loved ones, homes and quite literally the clothes on their backs. Makeshift evacuation centers in Mindanao lack the necessary resources, including potable drinking water, food, medicine and clothing to in order to properly assist over 88,000 evacuees. Despite the help of aid agencies, the efforts are still not enough to manage a calamity of this scale.

We need your help. Please. Donate now and help save lives.

For your donations and more information, please visit the following organizations:

Philippine Red Cross

Het Nederlandse Rode Kruis

The Humanitarian Coalition

If you know of other relief organizations accepting donations for the victims of Typhoon Sendong, please do not hesitate to contact the author at in order to include the aid information on this post. ✌

Where Will Happiness Strike Next: The OFW Project by Coca-Cola

There is no denying that Coca-Cola‘s global brand recognition goes far beyond its ever popular, carbonated soft drink. With an iconic, type-faced logo, catchy tag-lines and prolific marketing strategies, the brand has always been a household name. Nevertheless, the Coca-Cola Company is also highly committed to “making a positive difference in the world.” This Christmas, the brand has truly outdone itself with its “Open Happiness” campaign, particularly in the Philippines.

With more than 11 million Filipinos working overseas, the Philippines considers its people to be its most valuable export. In a country where the legality of divorce is not acknowledged, labor migration is the major cause of broken families. Oftentimes, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are separated from their loved ones for an interminable amount of time, all for a chance at giving their children, siblings and parents a better life.

Given this reality, Coca-Cola asks the question, “What is happiness?”

To the millions of brave Filipinos working abroad, happiness is home. ✌


Sinterklaas en Zwarte Piet

Sinterklaas en de Zwarte Pieten
Sinterklaas en de Zwarte Pieten. Photo Courtesy of Copyright © 2003-2011.

This essay was published in the Manila Standard Today on Christmas Eve, 24 December 2011.

“Christmas comes early to the Netherlands” is probably the most exhausted cliché, christening every article ever written on the Dutch yuletide season. In fact, to the millions of jolly little children waiting to open their presents in the Netherlands, Christmas day comes three weeks too late. Though this practice may seem strange to most, the fact is that the ritual of gift giving historically originated not from the pilgrimage of the Three Kings, but rather from Father Christmas himself. Interestingly, for the Dutch, Sinterklaas arrives in mid-November.

Not unlike his North American counterpart, Sinterklaas is a white-bearded, kind-hearted old man clothed in red. However, the similarity in appearance ends there, as this solemnly vested Sint Nikolaas closely resembles an archbishop, complete with the ceremonial miter and staff. Indeed, his tall, considerably slim stature is a far cry from the plump, rose-cheeked, cola-loving Santa whom we have all come to know.

The arrival of Sinterklaas is a jaunty affair of national importance. Crowds of enthusiasts, accompanied by their nostalgic (if not exhausted) parents, gather at the port to welcome the Sint with pomp, pageantry and in-depth media coverage. As Dutch lore dictates, Sinterklaas originally hails from Asia Minor (Turkey) and travels to the Netherlands by ship from his permanent residence in Spain. He then tours the countryside on horseback, visiting children from city to city, making a list and checking it twice. At present, the Sint’s tight schedule includes a royal appearance with the young Dutch princesses as well as stopovers in Belgium, French Flanders and the outlying territories of the former Dutch Empire (including South Africa, Suriname and Indonesia).

The culmination of these festivities is marked by the celebration of Sinterklaasavond (Saint Nicholas Eve) on the 5th of December. As the forbearer to Christmas Eve, the evening’s rituals are somewhat similar. Upon the Sint’s arrival on Dutch soil, each child puts one shoe at the foot of the fireplace (or central heating unit) and stuffs it with a carrot or hay as a treat for Amerigo, Sinterklaas’ steed. After much merriment, poetry and songs, the children are off to bed and awaken the next morning to find a sack full of gifts and their shoes filled with candy. By then, Sinterklaas would have slipped quietly into the night, only to return the next year.

What appears to be a rich fairytale tradition is made even more interesting with the inclusion of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). Parallel to Santa’s elves, the Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) serve as the Sint’s entourage, accompanying him on his annual state visit with a dusting of pepernoten (small cookies made with cinnamon, anis and clove). They are commonly dressed in bright, lace-collared, 17th century page costumes, sporting feathered hats and black leather shoes. Known in former times as the Sint’s enforcers, the Piets administer treats to the sweet and spanks to the spoiled. Armed with a whip fashioned out of willow, it is said that they punish the naughty with a good lashing. If this is still insufficient for a child to make straight his ways, the Piets might even go as far as stuffing the brats in a burlap sack and taking them back to Spain.

Nowadays, Zwarte Piet is marred by controversy. It is not so much the malevolent child abuse, which is more folklore than fact. Rather, it has more to do with the Piets’ cartoonish appearance – a blackened face, curly, afro-like hair, pearly whites and thick, bright red lipstick. Since the Sint has his historical roots in Turkey, his companions being of Moorish decent is a sound explanation; hence the Zwart in Zwarte Piet. Still, when Dutch (Caucasian) men and women paint their faces black, wear kinky wigs, ruby lipstick and dress up in gaudy outfits, a few raised eyebrows is unavoidable.

The Dutch insist that climbing the dirt and soot-lined chimneys result in the Piets having blackened faces. Those who find these kooky characters offensive claim that this argument is quite weak. Why then are their suits immaculately clean? Considering their slapstick likeness, the Piets resemble a stereotypical, caricature version of a black person. To add insult to injury, the crowds of children gathering to pay homage to Sinterklaas are all dressed in their miniature Zwarte Piet costumes, making an extra effort to apply the iconic black face paint. Sadly, despite being an all-time favorite holiday ritual, this practice has been the subject of racial protests from the Dutch immigrant population, particularly those with African origins.

Be that as it may, this debate is better left uninitiated. The arrival of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands is, after all, a time for celebration. It commemorates the feast day of Sint Nikolaas, the patron saint of children, sailors and the city of Amsterdam. More importantly, it is a time for the gathering of family, for gift giving, merriment, poetry and songs, delicious warme chocolade melk (hot chocolate milk), pepernoten, speculaas (winter spice biscuits) and decadent, chocolate alphabet letters.

On any other day, the line between political correctness and cultural affairs may be drawn. If done properly, it can spark a healthy discussion on culture, identity and race, thus enriching cultural understanding and social values. With regard to Sinterklaas however, it is best to leave your arguments at the door, lest you want Zwarte Piet to take you back to Spain. ✌

Stark Contrast: Paris and Berlin

Maria Austria (1915-1975), Paris, 1960. Photo Courtesy of Maria Austria Institute, Amsterdam and the Fotomuseum Den Haag

Gare du Nord, Dutch photographers in Paris 1900-1968                           Fotomuseum Den Haag

Gare du Nord is the latest exhibition by the Fotomusuem Den Haag, featuring the work of Dutch photographers in Paris during 1900 to 1968. At the time when the French capital was deemed a premiere metropolis – with its bustling nightlife, romantic clime and charming avenues – the City of Light truly inspired quite a number of intellectuals, writers and artists from across the globe. Dutch photographers were no exception.

Centering on the magnificence that is Paris, the exhibit presents the work of about fifty Dutch photographers, each with their own technique and favored subject matter. From breathtaking cityscapes to the Parisian Banlieues, everyday people to celebrities and icons, these photographs allow for a glimpse into the city’s past, weaving a rich tapestry of Parisian life during that time. Indeed, the images capture Paris’ mystical allure, leaving even the most globalized, twenty-first century viewer bewitched.

Jonathan Meese
Jonathan Meese (2006). Photo Courtesy of GEM Musuem voor Actuele Kunst, Den Haag.

Jonathan Meese, Totalzelbsportrait                                                                           GEM Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Den Haag

Accompanying Gare du Nord is a retrospective on German artist Jonathan Meese, entitled Totalzelbsportrait at the GEM Museum voor Actuele Kunst. Known for his burning advocacy on the “Dictatorship of Art,” the Berlin-based painter, sculptor and performance artist has chosen his “total self-portrait” as a unifying theme. In doing so, Meese reveals a multifaceted portrait, simultaneously playing the role of child, animal and dictator. Though his image constantly appears in the majority of his work, Meese makes use of his likeness to oppose self-addiction, commonly associated with the self-portrait format. ✌

“Art does what it wants, not what the artist wants. The artist may be ill, stupid, dead – art is not interested. Submit to art and you no longer need religion.”

Exhibit Information:

The Gare du Nord and Totalzelbsportrait installations are open until 15 January 2012. For more information on the exhibitions and museums, visit their websites: Fotomusuem Den Haag and GEM Museum voor Actuele Kunst.

On Work

The travails of today’s youth set the stage for a different sort of rebellion. Though the opposition remains the same – institutions, the government, the Man, authority –  the demands are quite unique. Rather than defecting from society, as revolutionaries most often do, the young have a feverish desire to participate, an intense fervor to work.

For the millions of unemployed graduates all over the world, the end-goal of obtaining gainful employment is more than simply financial remuneration. Despite being a priority during this current economic downturn, monetary compensation plays a remarkably minor role in regard to personal motivation. In fact, as an activity which preoccupies most of our adult lives, work involves a number of principles that are arguably more meaningful than the duties listed in a standard job description: participation, contribution and validation.

There is no denying that work is a social activity. On the one hand, it enables social interaction between the individual, colleagues, supervisors, customers and competitors. There is no single occupation that does not require the least amount of communication, whether in the real or virtual world.

On the other hand, work allows individuals to participate in society. As a member of the working class, an individual has a voice, the freedom to organize as well as every right to be heard. Participation takes place within a social collective, be it among colleagues, within a team, a department, a firm, an organization or society as a whole.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that any amount of work can be considered a contribution. Whether it be the latest mobile application, breaking news article, original brew recipe or lyrical masterpiece, the primary function of work is to produce something of value. For the idealistic youth of today, being able to contribute, to produce something valuable, specifically for the benefit of society is a fundamental concern.

Nevertheless, contribution is not limited to output alone. Through our participation and social interaction, we are able to contribute to the richness of others’ experiences. Discourse, no matter how mundane, creates meaning in the world we inhabit, increasing our knowledge and giving value to our lives.

Finally, the desire to work is essentially rooted in our human need for validation. In relation to participation, work satisfies our primeval yearning for acceptance. It validates our membership within a community and our role in society. Likewise, the confirmation that our work truly makes a difference is most sought after. Indeed, much satisfaction is gained from the recognition of your boss, a customer, a colleague or even a friend.

Ultimately, work is a quest for our own personal validation. Though it does not define who we are (unless we allow it to), what we do on daily basis is part of our identity. As human beings, we try to find meaning within our own lives. We look to our work as a validation of our existence, proof that there is indeed a point to all of this, that what we do matters. Most importantly, our work confirms that we matter. We matter to ourselves, to the people we work with, the customers we work for, the people we love and the world we live in.

Fulfillment begins when even the smallest part of our social circle acknowledges our active participation in contributing something of value. However, when work becomes an act of love, it can no longer be called work. ✌

Urban Art as Social Activism

Bringing together some of the finest street and graffiti artists from across the globe, the Wynwood district of Miami has been transformed from a forgotten warehouse quarter into a haven of public art. Strewn across the industrial landscape is a collection of vibrant, awe-inspiring murals of monumental proportions. With each masterpiece, a rich dialogue is continuously initiated between the artists, their shared personal narratives and the viewing public.

Mexican graffiti artists Sego and Saner (featured in this video) invest in this creative discourse through an imaginative dreamscape. Their mural seeks to act as an agent of change, aiming to reshape world perspectives on their motherland, culture and people. Ultimately, their art strives to influence the passive observer to think critically and become agents of positive change themselves.

The principle that art has the power to create and recreate is clearly evident with the Wynwood Walls. The project has not only revitalized a previously dilapidated Miami neighborhood, it has also made available a public platform for a truly-under appreciated art from, giving it the attention and respect is rightly deserves. ✌

For more information on the Wynwood Walls and artists featured in this video, visit their websites listed below:

The Wynwood Walls

Sego & Saner

Made Local

This essay was published in the Manila Standard Today on 19 November 2011

In recent years, there has been a growing trend in local manufacturing in the United States, Japan and much of Western Europe. This “slow movement” is distinguished by the production of goods in small batches, whose raw materials are locally sourced and are either handmade or fabricated using more traditional, time-consuming methods. As a result of their limited quantity, artisanal quality and a sustainable approach to sourcing and production, these products retail at a high margin, even competing with luxury brands in terms of price.

This “less is more” approach to local manufacturing can be viewed as a reaction to increasing globalization, the outsourcing of factors of production, the consequent dominance of China and India and the reality that the West (with the exception perhaps of Germany) no longer makes things. Accordingly, slow manufacturing is close to home. Small, independent businesses employ an indigenous workforce who labors in domestic workshops (as opposed to mega factories) while procuring inputs native to the region. Unsurprisingly, brands that champion these methods of production have gained a cult following with customers wiling to pay a premium for their products.

Take, for example, The Hill-side – a New York-based men’s accessories brand that specializes in scarves, pocket squares and ties. Although most of the fabric is sourced from the best Japanese mills, its products, more specifically the label of its products, are 100% made in the USA. Contrary to contemporary sales methods, the firm has opted out of an online channel, making a limited amount of its wares available only at select retailers.

The same goes for Billykirk – a leather goods company founded in 1999 by two brothers in their Los Angeles garage. Renowned for its timeless designs, premium American hides and fine craftsmanship, the firm insists on using low-tech, traditional manufacturing techniques to produce well made, long lasting, heirloom pieces. Ten years on, the brand is now in high demand among global fashionistas and has since moved its slow production to a New Jersey studio.

At the same time, Europe fanatically endorses its vibrant local traditions and a similar outlook can be said for its products. Despite heralding the free market and birthing the Industrial Revolution, small and medium enterprises remain dotted across the European landscape. From bespoke tailors and couturières in and around European fashion capitals to made-to-measure gloves and espadrilles at the heart of Barcelona, it is evident that slow manufacturing is still alive in Europe – albeit the current health of its guilds remains questionable in these uncertain economic times.

Given the fact that consumers are willing to spend more on handcrafted, locally sourced, artisanal products from the United States, Europe and Japan, how then is this any different from purchasing identically manufactured products from the developing world?

Lest we forget, Asia, Africa and the Middle East are kaleidoscopes of rich local cultures, deeply rooted in craftsmanship. Khorat silk, Yogyakarta batik, Cebuano furniture, Delhi leather sandals, Mongolian moccasins, Phoenician pottery and Fes tiles are but a few examples. Characterized by the lack of heavy industry, particularly among least-developed countries, manufacturing is literally done at home as opposed to being close to home. Strikingly similar to slow manufacturing in the West, much of the backyard production in the developing world is done in small batches, using materials endemic to the region and are almost always handmade.

How is it then that local products from developing nations that are of equal if not finer quality, produced in the exact same manner are considered incomparable to their Western counterparts?

The unequal treatment of these types of goods can be attributed to their perceived value. Consumers are willing to pay more if the benefits of a specific product are perceived to be greater than the cost of ownership of that product. Supposedly, the customer gets more than what is bargained for. This is the logic behind shoppers preferring the slightly more expensive Brand X laundry detergent to Brand Y, even though the goods are exactly alike. This is also the founding principle of luxury brands, of which exclusivity and social status are the value-added, granted at an exuberant cost. In effect, companies are spending billions on advertising campaigns to increase the perceived value of their products in order to stimulate demand and justify the price.

In this case, however, it seems that consumer perceptions go beyond the overall value of a product’s attributes and take into consideration its country of origin. That being said, developing nations have always been unjustly labeled as cheap. This can be credited to their poverty, lagging industrialization and flawed human rights records. As a result, products made in the developing world carry a negative connotation and are consequently undervalued, despite being of equal or greater quality than Western handmade goods.

Let it be clear that slow manufacturing among developed nations is indeed a positive undertaking. The movement promotes the establishment of small and medium enterprises, which in turn provide employment opportunities to local communities and enforce sustainable methods of sourcing and production. In this respect, local manufacturing stimulates national economies – a much needed remedy to the perennial economic crisis.

The issue, therefore, is not that locally manufactured, artisanal products from the United States, Europe and Japan retail at a higher margin. The quality of these goods is undeniably superior and the time and effort invested in their craftsmanship does, perceptively at least, justify the price. Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that corresponding products in the developing world, crafted with even finer class, are not treated with the same sophistication. Rather, these effects are consistently underrated and cast out as cheap.

Simply put, it is a matter of perception. ✌

Colonial Mentality

This essay was published in the Manila Standard Today on 31 October 2011

Colonial mentality was a major issue during my upbringing in the Philippines. The expression was made popular at the height of the US Army Base boycotts during the early nineties. Primarily, this term referred to the favoring of imported goods, usually popular brands from the United States, over local products. On a cultural level, however, this encapsulates a dangerous belief that our former colonial masters – the entire Western World to be exact – were, are and always will be far more superior to us in every single way.

Arguably, this statement may be considered an exaggeration. Be that as it may, the fact that Filipinos consistently fall victim to colonial mentality is undeniable.

Over the past decade, more than half a million Filipinos have immigrated permanently to the United States. It is quite amazing the lengths people will go to (legal or otherwise) for a greencard – a Mount Everest of requirements and forms, never-ending lines, a labyrinth of red tape, not to mention the ridiculously extravagant application fees – all for a chance at a “better” life, a crack at the American Dream, salvation in the land of milk and honey. As a result, colonial mentality has evolved from a desire for imported goods to coveting foreign nationality. And if my memory serves me correctly, covetousness is a deadly sin. In this case, it is because we Filipinos posses a foolishly romantic perception of the West where there is no poverty or suffering, only prosperity.

We need only to consider the news to render colonial mentality invalid. First and foremost, the United States and the majority of Western Europe no longer make our imported goods. Thanks to increasing globalization and massive outsourcing of production, everything is now made in the developing world, specifically in China and India. In fact, in response to the deepening issues of the global economic crisis, President Obama openly admits that despite being a champion of innovation, the United States needs to go back to making things. At the same time, European Heads of State agree that the EU lags behind tremendously with regard to innovation and manufacturing. Subsequently, in terms of imported goods, colonial mentality can no longer refer to “Made in the US” (or EU) as everything is now made in China.

Another misconception we have is that poverty does not exist in the West due to its economic stability. No one can be blamed for this idea. Since the end of the Second World War, the US has become the largest, most superior economy in the world. As then and now, we know where our loyalties lie. Consequently, the Philippines has patterned everything from its systems of education, government, language, infrastructure and even the Constitution from the United States in the hope that adopting the American system of democracy, free-market economy and public education will bring about equal, if not greater prosperity to the nation.

Whether this is true today is beside the point. Every system has its flaws and the West is no exception.

Given the current circumstances, the situation in the US and Europe can only be summarized by the Foreign Media’s favorite word: Crisis. Beginning in 2007, global headlines have proclaimed the arrival of the Western apocalypse namely, the US housing crisis, the subprime mortgage crisis, the US financial crisis, the global economic recession, the US homeless crisis, the US jobs crisis, the Euro Zone crisis, the Portuguese, Spanish, Irish, Italian and Greek sovereign debt crises, the EU financial crisis and the list goes on.

Naturally, this economic turmoil has had devastating effects on the citizens themselves.

From Greek anti-austerity rallies in Athens to the Occupy Wallstreet movement in New York, people throughout the Western World have gathered in protest against rising unemployment, economic injustice, cutbacks on social welfare and the overall failure of their governments to respond. To say that the economic climates in the US and the EU are unstable and its futures are uncertain is an understatement. For every available job in the US (blue-collar or otherwise), there are at least seven applicants. Almost 46 million Americans rely on foodstamps and other subsidies for their daily meals. That is to say, as of 2010, 46.2 million Americans were classified as poor. Now it seems that milk and honey have run out in the Promised Land and the economic prosperity that once characterized the West is waning.

If the Philippines continues its dependence on the West, it runs the risk of contagion in terms of economic malaise, something our nation obviously cannot afford as a developing country. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite our affinity with all things American, the Philippines maintains closer economic ties (imports and exports) with its Asian brethren – China, Japan and Singapore in particular. Although the US accounts for a significant share of Philippine trade, the majority of our country’s international business is conducted within the Asian region. Once again, this is due in part to China being both the fastest growing economy and the world’s factory.

The fact that colonial mentality is no longer applicable today therefore necessitates a new model for national development. With a highly skilled, exceptionally educated, English-speaking workforce, thriving services and manufacturing industries and an abundance of natural resources, ours is a recipe for success. For far too long, the Philippines has been nursing a stiff neck, twisting toward a westerly direction. It is high time our nation shifts its attention to a more promising ideal – itself. Sadly, what prevents us from doing so is a lack of self-confidence. More specifically, it is our highly exaggerated, overly romanticized, defeatist belief that the West has won. ✌

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